Saturday, 12 March 2011

Latest update

We are continually monitoring the tsunami warnings in the Pacific following the Japanese earthquake.

According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre there is no tsunami warning for Malaysia, although the Malaysian government has advised people to avoid coastal areas and to expected higher tides and rough seas.

As a precautionary measure Raleigh has moved one of the project groups that was working on an island off Northern Sabah to higher ground as higher tides and rougher seas are expected. The island on which the group was working was sheltered by another island, and both islands are sheltered by the Philippines. All project groups are safe.

We would like to reassure any interested parties that we continue to monitor the situation. We will be regularly updating this area of the website and if you have any concerns please call our head office in the UK on 020 71831270.

A Taste of Alpha 3

Kate McKeon, our lovely expedition Administrator, spent ten days with Alpha 3 at Toboh Pahu, working on their gravity water feed project. Here's her account of life in the foothills of the mighty Mount Kinabalu...

Having been at Fieldbase since arriving in Borneo, and watched longingly as everyone was deployed for Phase One, I was so excited to have the opportunity to go out in Phase Two with Alpha Three to Toboh Pahu to help with the construction of a Gravity Water Feed System that will supply water to three hundred villagers. Situated in the foothills of Mount Kinabalu, the journey to the community hall offered amazing views. With Rob and Rory, the PMs who will be in Toboh Pahu throughout the entire expedition, and Arthur, Callum, Carly, Eline, Fred, Georgia, Jenny, Matt, Onne, Rob and Sisi, we left basecamp at 6am. Arriving in Toboh Pahu we looked through the slats in the kitchen wall across the valley to Mount K towering above us.

We woke on Monday morning in time for assembly at the local school. The school has 60 pupils aged 5 to 12 and as we arrived and met the headmaster the bell rang and the children came running from their classrooms across the road to the assembly hall. They all gathered and lined up in their year groups, then sang the Malaysian and Sabahan anthems. We then went off to start work on concreting a tank site.

Alpha Three quickly got stuck in, carrying heavy bags of cement, aggregate and sand, mixing the cement and laying the concrete evenly. Quickly the tank site was complete, and ‘Walking On Sunshine’ (which is the music video for 11B) carved into the concrete. We found a grasshopper that enjoyed living in our hair, named Gordon Vert, who was to become inspiration for the Loop’s arrival in a few days time (all will become clear). After lunch, we moved the materials for the tank site from the top of a hill in our rucksacks. As we began carrying the bags down, it started to rain. But that wasn’t to deter Alpha Three, who continued working in the rain to finish tank site number two.

Back to the community hall, soaked through but satisfied, we sat down to a nice steaming mug of Milo and a few games of cards.

The following day, the Amazing Alpha Three hauled 840kg of aggregate, concrete and sand up a hill in three runs in the rain. On Wednesday we concreted the third and final tank site after shifting the rest of the concrete. By now the team were professional concrete layers so the task was quickly completed.

We then began to move the pipe up to the dam site. Each pipe is 100 metres long, so we unraveled it and each took a section to carry it through the jungle up into the mountain. Upon reaching the dam site, we climbed higher up the mountain and carried the bags of sand and aggregate down the hill (mostly on our bums) back to the dam site. Upon finishing, we trekked down through the mountains back to the community hall. While in the shower, trying to get rid of all the mud, the group had decorated the room with balloons and Matt had made a cake for my birthday, which was a really lovely surprise. It was definitely a birthday I won’t forget for a long time!

The Loop arrived to the school children singing, and a French restaurant; Chez Gordon Vert (in honour of the grasshopper I mentioned earlier). The following morning the Loop had to leave very early on their journey to the less exciting Gravity Water Feed System at Alpha Five (only joking…) We spent the day surveying the pipe route, split into two groups; one working their way down as the other climbed up, so both met in the middle. We were invited by Hendry, one of the villagers, to a wedding the next day.

On Saturday we all washed and put on our least smelly clothes (!) and headed down the hill, towards the sound of gongs, to the wedding. Upon arrival we were greeted by Hendry and lots of other villagers, and noticed the music playing in the background was ‘I Saw Mumma Kissing Santa Claus’ – strange for a March afternoon in Borneo!! We were invited right away to have some amazing food (some may have over-indulged slightly - 5ths anyone?) and then ushered to our bench before the bride and groom made their entrance and greeted everyone. Some of the group were shown how to play the gongs, and then the dancing started! The Dusun tribe have a special way of dancing, known as “sumazau”. The aim is to resemble a bird, in holding your arms out to the side and slowly moving them up and down. We were also asked on several occasions to sing karaoke, which Alpha three did eagerly…never have I heard such a beautiful version of Don’t Want To Miss A Thing… Throughout the afternoon, the local’s enthusiasm grew and we found ourselves constantly dragged on to the dance floor – we were particularly impressed with Rob East’s dancing!! Before we left, the old headmaster of the school made a speech thanking us for coming and for the work we were doing for the community of Toboh Pahu. We were also invited to another engagement party the next day! Walking up the hill with our bellies full of amazing food and the gongs still ringing in our ears, we reflected on what a great time we’d had and how welcoming the villagers are.

The engagement party brought more food and more excitement. The rest of the week was spent moving pipes and re-concreting the dam site which was hard work but the group took it in their stride.

I had such a brilliant time with Alpha Three, and have no doubt that their Gravity Water Feed is definitely the most superior of expedition 11B. It was sad to leave the group and community behind yesterday morning, but it’s great to know that this project is going to be so beneficial to 300 people, and really impact upon their lives. Thanks for having me Alpha Three!!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Further Update

Although the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre and the Malaysian Government have confirmed that there is no tsunami warning for Malaysia, we have moved the project group on  Maliangan island to higher ground.

We would like to reassure you that this is a precautionary measure and that there is no official tsunami warning for Malaysia as Borneo is in the shelter of the Philippines.

All project groups are safe.

We are continually monitoring the situation and in discussions with the local emergency centre in Sabah, Borneo, and will provide regular updates on the home page of our website.

Please continue to monitor the home page of the website or call head office in the UK if you have any concerns.

As previously stated, if you have any concerns please check the official tsunami warning website, or call us on 020 7183 1270.


We are continually monitoring the tsunami warnings in the Pacific following the Japanese earthquake.

According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre and the Malaysian Government there is no tsunami warning for Malaysia. Borneo is in the shelter of the Philippines. The country team is in discussions with the local emergency centres to assess the situation. One project group is on an island off the coast of Northern Sabah and we are moving them to higher ground on the island as a precautionary measure.

We would like to reassure any interested parties that our systems and procedures are in place to address the situation and if you have any concerns please check the official tsunami warning website or call us on 020 71831270

Mark McCarthy
Country Director
Raleigh Borneo
Hello friends and family,

As you might have heard, northern Japan has just been hit with an earthquake.

We would like you to know that everyone is safe here in Sabah.

There have been no tsunami warnings for Malaysia. Geographically we are sheltered by the Philippines in the north.

We are constantly monitoring the situation and will update you on any developments.

Mark McCarthy
Country Director
Raleigh Borneo

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Phase Two Update

With the second phase of expedition now fully underway, you're probably all wondering how everyone is getting along out on project. So without further ado, here's a quick run down of what's been going on across the Sabah region:

Alpha 1Those of you who have been following from the beginning will be aware that Alpha 1 were meant to be building a kindergarten on this expedition. Unfortunately, due to bad weather, this has not been possible, however the kindergarten will go ahead in the summer expedition instead.

Undeterred by being unable to reach their original destination, the team have kicked off phase two in Kampung Solungkapit with great enthusiasm, and are already laying pipes for their new project - a gravity water feed system. Alpha 3 and Alpha 5 had better watch out!

Alpha 2 - Having been lucky enough to spend the first week of this phase on the beautiful Maliangin Island with Alpha 2, I can confirm that the eco toilet construction is continuing to go well - check out the photographic proof below!

Learning the basics of bricklaying for the eco-toilet bases

One down, seven to go!

Nick looking pensive in his sombrero!
The Alpha 2 team
Alpha 3 - The team at Alpha 3 took a rare day of rest yesterday to join the locals at a wedding ceremony in the village, but are now hard at work laying the pipe for what they still claim to be the 'superior' gravity water feed of Expedition 11B!

Alpha 4 - All is well at the Sepilok jungle camp, with the team continuing to complete sections of boardwalk around the sun bear enclosure at the orangutan sanctuary.

Alpha 5 - To celebrate the tank platform being completed, the jubilant venturers of Alpha 5 headed off for a trip to a nearby waterfall yesterday. The competition for best gravity water feed has never been tougher...

Alpha 6 - After a relocation back to Kampung Mongowou - the previous Alpha 6 site - the team have been making improvements to their camp and preparing to get back into the jungle and continue with their biodiversity study. Word reached us yesterday that they were also planning a trip to the local church for the three hour Sunday service!

Our artist, Helen, managed to get these snaps from Alpha 6 last week before she headed off to join the trekkers on dive island:

Alpha 7 - Their dive now a distant memory, the hardy venturers of Alpha 7 called in yesterday from Bamboo Camp, and will be reaching Pasu Camp later on today.

Alpha 8 - Our intrepid trek-dive group called in this morning from Maga Falls to confirm that all was going well. Bet they can't wait to get to dive island for a much needed rest!

Alpha 9 - The trek-dive-trekkers of Alpha 9 are currently sunning themselves on dive island, the lucky things! Although it's not long now until they're back off into the jungle...

This phase's Loop (comprising Deputy Programme Manager, Caroline, expedition accountant, Chris, and Logs Manager, Chris) is already making its way around the static project sites, so check back later in the week for more updates!